HC Deb 23 July 2004 vol 424 cc785-6W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his Department's target is for the percentage of(a) announced and (b) unannounced inspections of private children's homes which should be undertaken by the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate. [185526]

Margaret Hodge

The frequency of inspections for children's homes regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) is set out in The Commission for Social Care Inspection (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) Regulations. The Regulations require CSCI to inspect children's homes a minimum of twice in a 12 month period. Each of these inspections may be unannounced, however, general practice by CSCI Inspectors is to perform one announced inspection and one unannounced inspection in a 12 month period. These are minimum requirements and do not preclude CSCI visiting any number of times if there is cause for concern.

to determine funding priorities in the light of local needs and circumstances. In doing so, they must meet their statutory obligation to provide free part-time early education for three and four year olds. In 2003–04 overall funding in the EFSS under fives sub-block was worth some £2.6 billion.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in the context of SR 2004, proposals to provide free early education and care for more disadvantaged children through running pilots to reach 12,000 two year olds in disadvantaged areas. Details have yet to be finalised, although we are clear that any offer to two year olds should be underpinned by the widely welcomed 'Birth to three matters: A framework to support children in their earliest years'.